The Co-operative Funeralcare

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Dianne C

00:00:03 My name is Dianne C and I’m an Embalmer. The job of an embalmer is to look after people’s loved ones when they have passed away. The funeral director would arrange a funeral with them and I would then carry on the specifications of what the family wish, presenting them for viewing up to the day of the funeral, dressing them in clothes, doing their hair, nails, any makeup that’s required.

00:00:30 Basically taking care of people. I think people should be aware of what an embalmer does. It’s not like the Egyptians where they would use a hook to take out people’s brains and things like that. There’s nothing like that. It’s a very modern thing now. It’s a modern art and we do take a lot of pride in what we do.

00:00:51 Well I wasn’t very academic at school. I did come out of school with one O grade but that was by the by. I was always interested in, when I’ve seen a hearse go by I always was fascinated, what’s involved in that. The chaps with their top hats on, the coffin in the back of the hearse. I always just stopped and stared. So I always knew there was a fascination with the funeral business, and it wasn’t until I was in school, I was about 15.

00:01:20 I had no O grades, I only had one O grade and one of my friends, her neighbour actually got me a placement in a funeral business with the company she worked with, so I went to become a coffin furnisher and to me that was fantastic. I really knew this was the job for me, and from there, I just worked my way up becoming a funeral arranger working in an office. Then onto becoming a funeral director, and then I moved to the Island of Jersey where I met a man, Norman Foster, who was my inspiration to become an embalmer. He get…spent the time with me and taught me the basics of the job that I knew from then on. That was my destination.

00:02:01 There has been a few serious, really serious moments in my life. The Dunblane disaster was one of them, which, to me, was horrendous. I never want to experience that again. Not being able to give a reason to this family why anything’s happened to their children, you know, it’s inexplicable, you know, there’s nothing that you can say to them to make them feel better. But it does bring you closer to the people you work with.

00:02:29 It brings you closer to the community that you work with and you’ve got to be there for them 24-7 until they don’t need you anymore, and that’s what really the job is about. So that is the really dark side of the job. But in on the lighter side of the job for instance, a lady brought in the teeth for her husband and then realised it was her own. So you get a funny side and she laughed about that, so there is two sides to a job and you just take them all in your stride.

00:02:57 Some days you’ll go home and you’ll think, that was a horrendous day and you’ll have a good old cry to yourself and other days you’ll go home and you’ll laugh because of what’s happened that day. So it’s not an easy job but it’s a worthwhile job.

00:03:12 To let people understand why a job like this is important and why they think people should do it, is because it gives you great satisfaction in helping people. You want to be there to help them in their final moments. You want to be there to help the families in their tragedy. You’re there just to help them and what a great feeling it gets when everything’s all done and they go away knowing that everything’s been done for their loved one.

00:03:41 That’s what it’s all about. Nurses care for people in their last moments but we’re there after it to take over and deal with it when the loss happens and we are there for them. So I would suggest to anyone that wanted to do the job, it’s very worthwhile.

Diane Catterson is an Embalmer for The Co-operative Funeralcare. She takes care of the appearance of bodies, according to the family’s wishes. “I think people should be aware of what an embalmer does. It’s not like the Egyptians where they would use a hook and take out people’s brains and things like that… It’s a modern art and we do take a lot of pride in what we do.”

More information about Undertakers, mortuary and crematorium assistants

average salary

The UK average salary is ÂŁ29,813

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

84%  male 
16%  female 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

Future employment

Future employment?

? Undertakers, mortuary and crematorium assistants make funeral arrangements for clients, prepare the deceased for burial or cremation, and supervise and assist the proceedings of funerals.
There are no formal academic requirements although some employers require candidates to possess GCSEs/S grades. A full driving licence is often required. Training is provided on-the-job. Professional qualifications in funeral directing and embalming are available.
  • Collects body of deceased and assists with the completion of necessary documents;
  • Interviews relative or representative of the deceased to discuss preparations for funeral;
  • Liaises with cemetery or crematorium authorities on behalf of client;
  • Washes and injects body with sterilising fluid to prevent deterioration prior to funeral, and applies cosmetics, wax and other materials to restore normal appearance;
  • Provides hearse and funeral cars and leads funeral procession;
  • Controls the operations of crematoriums and cemeteries and processes legal documentation.
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